Customers Increasingly Expect Businesses to Respond to Reviews — Is Yours Keeping Up?

By the end of 2009, approximately 8.8 million reviews had been posted to Yelp — a company which, at the time, was only five years old. Today, the popular platform hosts more than 200 million reviews — a jaw-dropping increase of more than 2,100% over the course of the decade. As the role of technology in our society continues to grow and become more complex, these types of trends seem unlikely to reverse. 

Not only are more consumers writing reviews — they’re also placing more value on them, which impacts buying decisions. For example, according to a survey conducted by BrightLocal in 2017, “Reading negative reviews makes 40% of consumers not want to use a local business.” When BrightLocal repeated the survey in 2019, that percentage more than doubled, with 82% of respondents saying negative reviews made them “less likely to use a business.” By 2020, the most recent survey available, that figure had increased to 92% of respondents.

As online reviews are becoming more common — and more consequential — businesses must adapt by adopting effective, efficient review response strategies. That means personalizing your replies, empathizing with customers’ feelings, and — just as critically — responding as quickly as possible. As we’ll explore in this article, it’s not just about what you say to your customers; it’s also about when you say it. Keep reading to learn why the timing of your responses might matter just as much their contents. 

How Fast Should My Business Respond to Customer Reviews? 

Remember those BrightLocal surveys we mentioned a few moments ago? In the 2020 edition, which you can explore the full version of here, the surveyors added a new question for respondents: How fast should business owners respond to their online reviews? 

The answers were unambiguous, with the vast majority of participants expecting responses within two to three days — or sooner. Just over a quarter of the survey’s 1,013 participants, a total of 26%, said they expected a response within 48 hours, followed by 20% who expected a response within 24 hours. Tied for third place, 15% of participants said they expected a response within 72 hours, with an additional 15% extending that timeline to one week. By comparison, a mere 4% of participants said they expected a response within two weeks, while only 1% expected a response within four weeks. These are actionable insights for your business, revealing whether you need to accelerate your current response strategy.   

The data above, while fascinating in its own right, may take on a new sense of urgency when compared with some findings from previous years. For example, one survey showed that in 2017, 51.7% of consumers expected a business to respond to their reviews within seven days of providing negative feedback. Just a year later, that figure had increased to more than 53%. 

In the same survey, taken 2018, only about half of the participants expected a reply at all, with nearly 47% saying they didn’t expect a response from the business. Yet in BrightLocal’s survey from 2020 — taken just two years later — only 9% of participants said that they didn’t expect a response. Of course, it’s possible that other factors contributed to these differences, such as survey methodology and sample size. However, in an age of instant communication, the general trend seems clear: faster is better. 

The takeaway for business owners? Consumers are getting savvier, writing more reviews — and expecting faster responses — as technology grows more ubiquitous and accessible. And in today’s competitive landscape, you can’t afford to lose brand loyalty by failing to meet those expectations. 

Don’t pass up vital opportunities to satisfy and engage with your reviewers. Instead, take control by using your response strategy to cement stronger, more profitable customer relationships. Responding quickly to each review shows that you value and respect your customers, encouraging repeat business — and more word-of-mouth marketing — while simultaneously improving your brand’s public image. 

Remember: even if the original reviewer decides not to return to your business, a speedy response can still help attract new customers, especially if the response is also helpful, friendly, and personal. For tips on crafting better responses, check out our suggestions for responding to negative reviews — or, just let our experts at  ResponseScribe handle the writing for you! 

Our Response Scribes Can Respond to Your Online Reviews within 24 Hours 

Time is of the essence — especially when your customers are counting on you. That’s why at Shout About Us, our response scribe service comes with a 24-hour guarantee. No matter what time zone you’re in or how many locations you manage, our dedicated team of responders ensures that all of your reviews receive customized responses within 24 hours of submission. That includes Yelp reviews, Google reviews, and dozens of other major review platforms, in addition to business ratings on Facebook. 

Satisfy customers, keep up with trends, and grow your reputation as a company that cares.  Book a demo with us today.

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